Just over a month ago, we posted an article entitled "Do People Still Care About Email Spam Anymore?". Part of the reason why people might not care anymore, according to this article, is that email has become passé. With so many other new ways to communicate, why even bother with email?
Not only did a few readers take the time to post some compelling counter-arguments to our article, even muckraking marketing columnist Ken Magill has weighed in on the debate. Citing a few recent studies — including a finding by the Pew Internet & American Life Project that email is still the No. 1 online activity across all age groups of internet users — Magill goes so far as to advocate a pretty hefty dose of harassment for the next person who states in public that email is dead.
There are reasons why email is still so popular. It is easy to use, it is (relatively) private, and it is accepted across generations and for personal and business purposes alike. You don't need a special 'app' to use it, and neither do you have to enlist with an online "community" (yes, there are still people out there who don't want to be a part of Facebook!). While most of us in the online business world are keen to broadcast our thoughts to the world via Facebook, Twitter, and whatever, there are still many people who just want to have a good old fashioned one-on-one email conversation.
And so it's pretty clear: email still matters. And, because email matters, spammers still take advantage of it. And for that reason, people still care about old-fashioned email spam. They have to.
As one commenter noted, spam is still widely used by scam artists to get their dirty hands into our private lives, and, ultimately, our bank accounts. People are still getting ripped off by spammers – whether it be through malware, phishing, fake pharmaceuticals, or whatever — and, undoubtedly, these people still care.
Another comment pointed out that, even for those of us who think that spam isn't a problem because filters manage to keep most spam from our inboxes, the cure is occasionally worse than the disease. Regardless of how good spam filtering has become, false positives will always be a problem. For anyone who has ever lost out on an important business opportunity (or maybe even a hot date) because their email didn't make it to the intended recipient, they care about spam. If it weren't for spam, we wouldn't need spam filters, and we wouldn't have to worry about legitimate emails getting hijacked on their way to the inbox.
Parents are concerned about sexually explicit messages popping up (no pun intended) in their kids' inboxes. Legitimate marketers are concerned about having to compete with spammers for space in their customers' inboxes, and the ever-present risk that their messages might be labelled as spam too. And the Nigerian government is concerned about former diplomats and members of the royal family using spam to collude with total strangers to steal millions of dollars from the government's coffers (ok, just kidding).
When people stop using email, then spammers will stop sending spam through email. Then people will stop caring about email spam. Let me know when that happens.
Some readers may wonder why an organization that advocates against spam would even ask this question. We really just wanted to see what people would say. CAUCE still thinks email is important, and spam a very real problem. And apparently at least a few really smart people agree. Let's declare this debate closed – at least for the time being.
(This article was written by a different CAUCE supporter who wishes to remain anonymous.)